Poor instrument hygiene blamed for bagpipe player’s death

Posted by Charlotte Salter, on August 24, 2016.

Bagpipers and other wind instrument players have been urged to follow basic cleaning guidelines after a player died as the result of a serious lung condition caused by frequently inhaling mould spores from his instrument.


The 61-year-old bagpiper died of a chronic inflammatory lung condition called hypersensitivity pneumonitis, and the unusual circumstances prompted researchers to examine the case more closely. Their findings have been published in the leading medical journal Thorax.

The researchers warned that any type of wind instrument could be contaminated with yeasts and moulds, making players susceptible to the risk of hypersensitivity pneumonitis.

Although no ideal hygiene process has been recommended, cleaning instruments immediately after use and allowing them to drip dry could theoretically curb the risk of microbe growth, they suggest.

Robert Wallace, Editor of Pipe Band Magazine, official publication of the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association, told the Herald Scotland that the deaths was “an extremely rare case”.

“In 50 years of playing the pipes I have never heard of this happening before”, he said.

“All pipers know that they must change their bag frequently and/or regularly wash it and the blow stick out with warm water and disinfectant.

Contact the UKCPI on ukcpi@ukcpi.org or call 07843 199397.